By Anthony Slater – Aslater@opubco.com - @anthonyVslater
Oklahoma City survived a late rally on Wednesday night, beating the Clippers 117-111 in overtime for the Thunder’s best win of the season. Here’s some rapid reaction:
It was over when…
…Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook brushed off rough shooting nights to take control in overtime. The dynamic duo scored all 15 Thunder points in the extra period, nine coming from Durant and six from Westbrook. They started it off with back-to-back threes, Westbrook’s coming with a patented and flamboyant three-finger holster, and ended it with clutch free-throw shooting, as Durant drained four straight to close the game.
What does it mean?
In the long-term, not much. But for now, at least the Thunder can replace that empty slot in the ‘Best Wins’ category with Clippers. Before this one, the Thunder hadn’t beaten anyone. Or at least anyone of playoff significance. The 6-5 Warriors were the only victory OKC had over a team above .500. That changed with this impressive performance against Los Angeles, a red-hot 8-4 team entering on a six-game win streak that included beatdowns of Miami and San Antonio.
Star of the game – Kevin Durant
As previously mentioned, it was a rough shooting night for the Thunder star. He went 7-19 from the floor, missing seven of nine during one tough mid-game stretch. But, as always, KD was there when it mattered, scoring 15 of his season-high 35 points in the fourth quarter and OT, including an impressive 19-21 from the line. And the rest of his box score was stacked again, adding six rebounds, five assists and a season-high five steals.
Trending upward – Hasheem Thabeet’s contributions
This season, Hasheem Thabeet has 36 points, 33 rebounds, eight blocks and only two missed shots. That’s right, OKC’s big backup center is shooting nearly 85 percent from the field, making 11 of his 13 attempts. Thabeet has been surprisingly effective in limited minutes this year, often giving the Thunder more than Kendrick Perkins does. And it was like that again Wednesday night, contributing 10 points and four rebounds in 12 loud minutes. Perkins had zero points and four rebounds in 33.
Trending downward – Eric Maynor’s play
It’s been a prolonged struggle for Maynor in the first month of his comeback attempt. Remember when he was considered a bonus coming off the bench, consistently outplaying the opponent’s backup point guard? Well now, Maynor has become a liability. He’s shooting 35 percent and averaging a career-low 1.6 assists. On Wednesday night, he went scoreless (on 0-3 shooting) in 11 unimpactful minutes. Meanwhile Eric Bledsoe, the Clippers talented backup point guard, scored 11 points and dished four assists. It’s tough to return from a bad knee injury (unless your name is Adrian Peterson), so Maynor’s struggles are understandable. But that doesn’t change the fact that his poor play is hurting the Thunder.
Stat of the game
The Clippers only lead in this game was 2-0. Russell Westbrook hit a three with 10:40 left in the first quarter and the Thunder remained either ahead or tied for the rest of the night. But, using a frantic rally, the Clippers somehow managed to force overtime before eventually falling.
Tweet of the game
He can do no wrong.
Video of the incident
An interesting road test awaits the Thunder in Boston on Friday. OKC will face a sputtering 6-6 Celtics team that has lost two straight by double-digits, including a 20-point drubbing by the Pistons. But the Boston crowd is always rowdy and their team typically gets up for big match-ups. Should be interesting.